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Format: Kindle Edition
Engaging the Enemy, by Heather Boyd. First of all, it's unclear to me why the H agreed to spend ten years in India, under the thumb of the evil duke, with no proof the duke kept his word not to harm the H's siblings. And it appears he didn't keep his word. The H manages to amass a fortune while in exile in India and finds out after the fact that both the Duke and his heir, the H's unpleasant cousin, have died. He comes home to find his cousin's widow coming out of her year of mourning.
Another issue: Allegedly, the h (the widow) married his cousin 7 years ago at the age of 18. We are also told that her husband died a year ago "a year into the marriage." What?? Also, her son is 5 years old. I don't think it's a spoiler to tell you that the mysterious man the Duke sent to her bed to father the child was the H. But wasn't he in India for ten years? Maybe I missed something, but I hate it when authors don't bother to do the math. The fact that the H had any doubt the boy was his son, and the h had any doubt that the H was the man involved, also is hard to believe. There were a few surprises here which kept me reading. I won't tell you what they were because that would be a big spoiler. Overall, I enjoyed this despite its shortcomings. This surprised me because I must say that after reading a number of this author's books, I don't care for most of them.
The Reluctant Seductress, by Barbara Monajem. I have to say that I skipped over this one the first time through, as soon as I saw the slightly paranormal theme, which seemed offensive and silly at the same time. However, I decided to give the book another chance and I'm glad I did. Once you accepted the fact that there are people who can send erotic dreams to other people (and who use this technique in their work as spies for England) it's really a very good romance. The h was a very unwilling participant in this work, which has left her still a virgin, but very damaged. The H (whose estranged brother is also “gifted” in this manner) is a wonderful character, who admires the h in spite of her “secret.” This ended up being one of my favorite stories in the book, quite a surprise!
To Love a Hellion, by Nicola Davidson. I liked the chemistry between the H and the h (even if one of them didn't see it at first!) There was a mystery element (in fact, in a sense, there were two mysteries) with a slow reveal, which didn't overpower the romance. One of the villains, at least, was easy to spot. The motivations for some of their crimes was evident, but their determination for revenge against the H and h was a bit of a stretch for me. Still, this was a page-turner with a satisfactory ending (if you don't count the cliff-hanger with the h's brother!).
Lord Gallant, by Wendy Vella. I usually like Ms. Vella's stories and this was no exception. It starts out immediately with the forced and unwanted (on both sides) marriage, precipitated by a clumsy accident. The H is a bit of a boor at the beginning (while internally feeling guilt, at least) and a bit unsympathetic since he steamrolled the h and her guardian into the marriage, puffed up by his own “honor.” At first intimidated by the H and his entourage, who snub her at her own wedding, the h then shows herself to have a mind and will of her own. She puts the H in his place quite well. The growing mutual esteem between the two is well written and progresses naturally to the HEA. This was my favorite story in the book, since I enjoy a seemingly cold H who gets his attitude adjusted!
A Rakes Honor by Beverly Oakley. This pretty much started off with a repulsive scene between the h and the disgusting suitor her mother was pushing on her. It put me off so much I almost stopped reading. Although I did finish it, I really didn't care for the rather promiscuous h, or the dithering H, who was influenced a bit too much by his mother. Overall, it was well written, but I just didn't like the people. My least favorite story here.
Lord Wastrel by Donna Cummings. Here was another story I just about gave up on after reading the first part. (After reading this, I found out there was an earlier book in the series, which might have made some of this, especially the parts about Ares and Aphrodite, make more sense.) The h is nicknamed “Flighty Felicia” because she has made a habit of eloping with all and sundry. This has supposedly made her a darling in the ton (!!!!) because all the girls love hearing the stories of how she bailed on her suitors before getting to the altar. She also has an Aunt Aurore who is nicknamed Aunt Uproar. When you realize that the H is called Lord Wastrel, you begin to wonder if you will have to endure learning the nicknames of every character in the book. The H must put aside his rakish ways when he is landed with his illegitimate daughter by a past mistress. He is looking for a steady boring bride who will take over parental duties.
Early on, you find out that there is a method to Felicia's madness. She has the idea that there is a perfect man for her and she is determined to find him. This has led to a number of false starts with her elopements. Upon meeting the H, she decides he's the one. He doesn't agree, of course, but the chase is on. There is a lot of silliness, with the h going around pinching people, but overall, I liked this better than I thought I would.
Overall, a pretty good anthology with a number of stories that didn't appeal at first glance but needed to be given a chance.